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Learn about policy issues important to medical schools and teaching hospitals, with Executive Vice President Atul Grover, M.D., Ph.D.

Washington Highlights

Senators Question President’s Proposed GME Cuts at Senate Finance Committee Hearing

April 19, 2013—Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Kathleen Sebelius April 17 testified before the Senate Finance Committee on the president’s fiscal year (FY) 2014 HHS budget proposal, which includes $307 billion in cuts to Medicare providers over 10 years, including a reduction in Medicare indirect medical education (IME) payments to teaching hospitals, $68 billion in Medicare structural reforms, and $19 billion in Medicaid cuts [see Washington Highlights, April 12].

Senators Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Robert Casey, Jr. (D-Pa.), and Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) voiced their strong support for Medicare graduate medical education (GME) funding and raised concerns about the president’s proposed 10 percent cut in Medicare IME funding.  Sen. Cantwell questioned the impact of the proposed cuts on the unique services provided by teaching hospitals saying, “The issue is also trauma centers or burn centers like Harborview Hospital, so when you look at this reduction in indirect medical education it impacts that workforce.”  Cantwell added, “How do we look at this and make sure that these facilities can keep running and operating during this time period?”

Sen. Menendez (D-N.J.) also added his concern that the cuts would threaten the health care workforce and impact teaching hospitals ability to train new physicians stating, “How does cutting back on the programs specifically designed to train new physicians, how is it going to provide for the needed increase in the workforce that we recognize we need?”

Secretary Sebelius testified that the president’s FY 2014 budget reduces spending while also investing in the health and wellness of the nation, saying, “The President’s fiscal year (FY) 2014 Budget for HHS includes investments needed to support the health and well being of the nation, and legislative proposals that would save an estimated $361.1 billion over 10 years.”

She continued, “With this funding HHS will continue to improve health care and expand coverage, create opportunity and give kids the chance to succeed, protect vulnerable populations, promote science and innovation, protect the nation’s public health and national security, and focus on responsible stewardship of taxpayer dollars.”

Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus (D-Mont.) opened the hearing expressing his concern about the progress of the state health insurance marketplaces, stating, “I want these new marketplaces to be simple and successful.”  He also shared concerns about communicating the benefits of the Affordable Care Act, suggesting that “a lack of clear information is leading to misconceptions and misinformation about the law.”

Ranking Member Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) expressed his concerns with the budget request stating, “The President’s budget fails to address the fundamental challenge of health care entitlement spending in any significant way.  What this document lacks in courage, it more than makes up for in the same partisan rhetoric and policies.” 

Sen. Hatch also emphasized that “[u]nder the President’s budget, Medicare and Medicaid spending will reach nearly $11 trillion over the next decade.  Annual mandatory health spending will nearly double from $771 billion in 2013 to $1.4 trillion in 2023.”  He also added, “Although we’re projected to spend nearly $7 trillion on Medicare over the next ten years, the Hospital Insurance Trust Fund will continue to run significant deficits…. Under this budget, the fund will continue on its path to insolvency.”

Contact:

Len Marquez
Director, Government Relations
Telephone: 202-862-6281
Email: lmarquez@aamc.org

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Washington Highlights, a weekly electronic newsletter, features brief updates on the latest legislative and regulatory activities affecting medical schools and teaching hospitals.


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For More Information

Jason Kleinman
Sr. Legislative Analyst, Govt. Relations
Telephone: 202-903-0806
Email: jkleinman@aamc.org